No Such Thing as No Experience: Create Your “Value Inventory”

No Experience WastedDo you sometimes doubt the value you bring to a potential employer?

If so, I want to show you a wonderful technique to get past the “I don’t have a lot of work experience” barrier; a tool that will enable you to focus on where you do have experience that translates into something valuable to employers.

That tool: a “value inventory”.

Before we get started, let’s discuss three reasons this can be a challenging concept for early careerists:

  1. You equate “value” with “job,” and you tend to minimize experience that didn’t come with a paycheck
  2. You don’t have a fundamental level of self-awareness that it takes to identify your personal qualities and translate them into “value”
  3. In school, you don’t really get a lot of practice in promoting your value (your job in school: learn about stuff and prove you learned by passing a test… not in demonstrating the value and impact of the lessons learned)

We’re going to take on those challenges… and help you create your value inventory. Let’s get started…

Learning to Present and Market Yourself is a Skill

I worked recently with an accomplished Division 1 athlete on building a resume; she was befuddled because she didn’t know how being an athlete provided value to an employer. Another student organized a fundraiser for disadvantaged teens. One student had run, and profited from, an eBay store for nearly 10 years. All were unsure of what they had to offer.

Relatively quickly, though, you can learn how to take your life experiences, whatever they may be, and translate them into a “value proposition”.

It would be easy for the students mentioned above to say:

  • “Hey, I’m just a student employee, that’s not real work experience.”
  • “I was a student athlete, that’s not like a real job.”
  • “I ran an eBay store, but it’s not like I worked for anyone.”

The problem: these statements all discount valuable transferable skills you already possess! Here are steps that enable you to get to the root of what YOU have to offer your value proposition.

Create Your Own Value Inventory

Create  a workspace with three columns. In the first column, list any work or major projects you’ve done to date. This could include:

  • Volunteer work
  • Part time or summer jobs
  • On-campus work experience
  • Internships
  • Side gigs
  • Volunteering
  • Scouting
  • Athletics
  • Fraternity/sorority leader
  • Club participation
  • Academic projects
  • Public Speaking
  • Writing
  • Social Media

In the second column, list what skills were required to perform at a high level when completing the tasks from column 1. For example:

  • Showed up on time each day
  • Dealt with money
  • Dealt with customers
  • Kept financial records
  • Dealt with angry customers
  • Led meetings
  • Responsive to customers
  • Deliberately helped others
  • Accomplished team goals

Finally, in the third column, note the soft skills or competency learned or used to complete the tasks from column 2:

  • Showed up on time: initiative, responsibility, self-managing)
  • Took care of another person: responsibility, decision making, judgment, trustworthy
  • Dealt with money: trustworthy, financial acumen, responsible, judgment
  • Dealt with customers: customer oriented, judgment, representing the brand/company professionally
  • Kept financial records: financial acumen, accounting skills, trustworthy, judgment
  • Dealt with angry customers: customer oriented, service oriented, problem solver, representing the brand/company professionally
  • Led meetings: organization skills, leadership, meeting facilitation, self-confidence, influencing others
  • Responsive to customers: service-oriented, self-motivated, initiative, entrepreneurial
  • Deliberately helped others: organization, leadership, coordinating and executing to a plan, influencing others, time management, proactive
  • Focus on team goals: able to set and achieve goals, active listening, discipline, self-managing, team before self, time-management, commitment

At first, this may seem a bit intimidating. As you look through your own experience set, however, you will surely find the value you bring to an employer.

Clearly and confidently articulating your unique value proposition sets you apart from the competition. Create your value inventory… and see if just maybe you don’t do a better job of aligning your skills and experiences to the immediate needs of the employer!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!



Lea McLeod

About the Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog:


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